Phantom smell and IBS flare up: Hi all. So i was... - IBS Network

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Phantom smell and IBS flare up


Hi all. So i was wondering whether anyone has had similar issues as this. I was diagnosed about 2yrs ago with IBS after a colonoscopy gave me the all clear for other concerns. Since then i have been smelling a strange smell, no one can smell it nor can i describe it, it varies from something "damp" to something "rotten". One thing i have noticed recently is when my IBS is about to flare up the smell i smell gets really, really strong.

I've tried speaking to my GP about it but they seem uninterested in doing any further tests so im reaching out to other sufferers who may have had something similar.

Thanks in advance.

18 Replies

Hi davep

Sorry to read about your phantom smell with IBS. It might be bacterial overgrowth as I've had something similar with colitis and was treated successfully with a particular antibiotic Metrondonizole. Might be worth asking your GP about it although you say he wasn't very helpful!. Presumably as you were diagnosed with IBS after colonoscopy your not seeing a Gastro consultant because you could ask him?. Just a thought I hope you get it sorted soon.

DaveP13 in reply to misty14

thanks for the reply Misty14, ill be sure to follow up with my GP next time i visit.

misty14 in reply to DaveP13

Best of luck davep. Keep us posted.

I had this problem i had ibs and a smell it is bad bacteria in the gut and colon.... i didnt go down the antibiotics road as if u look up candida it make it worse....

So i did it naturally... i cut out all sugar,gluten and dairy for 6 weeks.

I took peppermint caps, dida tablets, probiotics and digestive enzymes 2 times a day for that amount of time to and within 3 weeks the pain of ibs had gone, the smell had gone i was 90% better!

Please try this..... look up candida or leaky gut

DaveP13 in reply to Lulububs

thanks for the reply lulububs, very helpful and will give it a try.

medcal73 in reply to DaveP13

thanku davep13 i will try that it is so so embarrasing

medcal73 in reply to medcal73

if i hadn,t read your reply dave my reply should have been to lulububs3 so sorry replied wrong one how ever hope it is working for you.

medcal73 in reply to Lulububs

thanku i also suffer this prob. and it is so embarrasing people do not understand the fever and pain associated with it and just shrug it off or take the micky thanku i will give this a

I have self diagnosed a condition called TMAU - look this up.

I have had these odd smells since I had gastroenteritris. If you cannot eat fish or seafood without the smells coming it may be this caused by secondary TMAU and bacterial overgrowth. Also meat and cauliflower, beans. peas and broccoli can cause it. I find onions and leeks cause a damp smell from me. It is not just a problem with fish, also fresh eggs and eggy products are a no no. I found this out first after drinking some advocat!

If it is this condition then foods high in choline bring it on. See any websites that mention this condition. It can be diagnosed but there are many gps that have never heard of it.

Trimethylaminuria is a disorder in which the body is unable to break down trimethylamine, a chemical compound that has a pungent odor. Trimethylamine has been described as smelling like rotting fish, rotting eggs, garbage, or urine.

There are several things that help like I find eating parsley the curly leaf kind has a deoderising effect, some people have charcoal tablets that help (did not help me) and also supplement with vitamin b complex.

You can have antibiotics and probiotics but best to see a specialist that knows about this, There is one in London - Dr Lachmann and take some info to the GP so they know it is a real condition if you want to be tested. You have to eat a lot of the stuff to cause the problem first if you are to be tested for the reaction. So I haven't gone yet as I would need a week off work.


It very hard to do but it 100% worked i can more or less eat what i want. I never went back to sugar much as i got used to no sugar and i still take the supplements and it still works

Possible imbalance off your gut bacteria. Have a good research of gut bacteria and digestive enzymes. Reccommend taking a good probiotic long term and digestive enzymes. Bad bacteria feeds off sugar I always find this a trigger.

Good luck x


The only thing that occurred to me was that the ‘phantom’ smell is actually caused by some brain condition - I think I’ve heard of such effects before. The fact that it coincides with an IBS flare-up could be because they are both the result of some other change in your body chemistry - worth asking your GP?

I hope things soon improve for you.

thanks for all the replies guys, will deffo take your advice on board.

drs. are not allowed sometimes to tell you all even when they know what problem is.also they do not know yet what actually causes i.b.s.. this imfo. came from n.h.s. i got on my computer notebook.

I have had that issue. It’s like you are the only one that seems to smell it. Thank God. I have switched my diet to Paleo. I don’t need to lose weight, heaven knows, I’m like a goose everything goes right thru me if I’m not medicated. I use the Paleo way of eating because it seems to help with the inflammation. Do you take meds every day. If so, what do you take?

DaveP13 in reply to Roseanne333

i dont take meds every day, only when i have a flare up. When it does flare up i usually get colofac(sp?) Thankfully ive been ok recently

So thought id give everyone an update. Ive been having probiotics twice a day, one drink of a morning and a yoghurt as a dessert after evening meal. Theyre helping i would say, the phantom smell is becoming less problematic. However, i regressed back to child hood at the weekend and had some fish fingers, ugh, the smell was near instantaneous so i guess i wont be having them any time soon.

Hello, this is my general response to help people find a baseline. If your farts are really stinking (like something died!) then this is proteins getting partially undigested to your large intestine, the bacteria react with the amino acid lysine and make a couple of evil smelling compounds - cadaverine and putrescine. This is usually a temporary thing. First, go to the doctors and get yourself checked for intestinal infections, and whatever other tests they want to do. Most people find they are all clear, and that IBS is a condition brought on by our modern diet, freely accessible food, sedentary lifestyles and a trigger of an earlier infection. After 27 years of suffering with IBS I have found that the long-term solution that actually works is all about vitamins and fasting and both are equally important. You are effectively the manager of a “food nutrient extraction factory”, I know that is obvious, but I have found that IBS is not about medicines, but about changing the way you run the factory, and thinking about it in that way.

This is based on some excellent publications, and also by observing how healthy people live. But, if you are all clear from the Doctor’s, then the first thing to sort out is your vitamins and the timing of your eating and fasting periods. An incident of food poisoning or infection can start you on a cycle that you need to make a really concerted effort to break out of. IBS causes vitamin deficiencies which are very difficult to overcome in most people’s diets, especially because you are probably eating selectively to manage your symptoms. Your vitamin levels affect the health of your intestines, and the health of your intestines affects your vitamin absorption, so it is a vicious circle that you have to break. Get some really good, expensive, multi-vitamins (ideally constituted for your age) and take them without fail every day before your breakfast. Get a blood test for Vitamin D and get you doctor to judge your supplement level required in IU’s. Do not get the ones with high calcium and magnesium content initially as certainly in large doses these minerals can mess you up as they consume your stomach acid, and you should get enough of these minerals from your diet. If you are on low FODMAPs, go for all lactose free dairy products to boost your calcium. At the same time, sort out your fasting periods immediately. This is normally completely overlooked by GP’s, but is critical. Your small intestine should be practically sterile, and your stomach acid along with bowel cleaning during fasting (called MMC) will usually do this. You need to fast for this to be effective, and by that I mean, ABSOLUTELY NO eating in between meals, only water, or zero-sugar drinks. Imagine that you never washed your dinner plates and just kept putting food on them all the time!, they would be permanently loaded with bacteria. You need to give your small intestine plenty of time free of food for cleaning and maintaining the factory. The modern scenario of have cupboards full of rich foods permanently available day and night is a modern luxury outside of the original design of the human being. Your stomach will sort itself out when you have got control of your small intestine (although if you've got gastritis you'll need to finish a course of omeprazole first), and then your large intestine will improve later as nutrients are more efficiently absorbed from your small intestine. Furthermore, you should be able to avoid bouts of gastritis as during the fasting periods, your stomach acid is more neutral at nearly pH 4. As a basic program, eat a good breakfast at say 7am (porridge with 50% lactose free milk) or what suits you and then a good lunch at 12 o'clock - absolutely no food in between. After lunch, no food again for at least 5 hours, and eat well again for your evening meal because it has got to get you through the night. No supper or snacks, no food or milk at all until breakfast the next day.

Further to this there are some things that cause direct inflammation of the colon by toxicity, and are are considered separate to the usual SIBO mechanism described here:

1.) Seek out and try to eliminate “trans-fats”. These cause direct inflammation of the colon, separately to bacterial overgrowth and you will be more sensitive than most because of SIBO and this confuses what is causing you trouble. Chips, hash browns, butter, popcorn and things cooked in cheap or old frying oil as you find in many restaurants can give you colon pain directly through inflammation. It usually passes in a day or so, but trans-fats are bad for you in a miriad of ways, not only by inflammation of the colon. Ideally, starches should only be boiled, rather than fried.

2.) E407, or “Carrageenan” – is a high MW galactose food additive derived from a red seaweed, which is only present in small quantities as a thickener, but even at that level it has been shown to be “highly inflammatory to the digestive tract” and associated with IBS, colitis and other GI diseases. There is loads of literature and objections to this substance on the internet. It is present in Milbona Crème Caramel, and many other products. After weeks of good health, just one of these products knocks me out with colon bloating and pain. I have found this by trial and error several times. Food tests show that even the food grade carrageenan contains between 2 and 25% of the non-approved “degraded” carrageenan, which is colon damaging and carcinogenic. Some food agencies now prohibit this additive altogether, and it may be responsible for a lot of IBS cases. It may be found in chocolate milk, cottage cheese, cream, crème caramel, ice cream, almond milk, diary alternatives, such as vegan cheeses or non-dairy desserts, coconut milk, creamers, hemp milk, rice milk, soy milk, and particularly processed meat. It is used extensively in cheap meats and is injected even into beef joints – so always get organic or local butcher fresh good quality meat!). It may be labelled as E407 or Carrageenan, but if you’ve got IBS, consider it as highly toxic for you. It may take a couple of days to get over a dose of this.

3.) E451 and E452, are sodium triphosphate and sodium polyphosphate predominantly used for packaged ham. These are also allergens for IBS and give me a similar reaction to E407. The diphosphate (E450) is commonly used in many foods and is not troublesome in my experience. Make sure you buy fresh ham “on the bone”, and check with your butcher whether it has been treated.

Red meats take a long time to digest, and also contain some trans-fats, but are usually tolerable. Only have them once a day, and just a light salad to go with them, not a load of starchy food or grains, as they have long digestion times. Ideally, you don’t want carbohydrates being held up in transit with heavy meats.

You will feel hunger in the fasting periods, but this is doing you good, and you must NOT respond to it - only with water or no-sugar drinks. This is CRITICAL. Importantly, when you are feeling better, do not resort to your old ways, you are still recovering, and you need to make a life-style change to have this level of discipline in your eating and continue with it. Do start doing some exercise if you don’t already, as this will really help with your gut motility, and your general health. It takes a few weeks at least, and you need to persevere. You then need to maintain a healthy and consistent way of eating and always keep the vitamins topped to prevent you from relapsing. In a couple of weeks, you should be able to be getting off the low FODMAP diet, and mixing back in the higher FODMAPs.

There is a lot of support for L-glutamine to help with repair of your intestinal lining; this means buying 500g of the bodybuilder powder type and having a couple of tea-spoons of this a day, one before breakfast and one just before you go to bed, and you can have this in a light cordial drink. A lot of this was taken from this excellent paper below, but it does fit exactly with what I have experienced. For the first time I really feel in control of the IBS mystery that has been a burden for years. Good luck. Please reply if this works for you.

Treatment and Management of SIBO — Taking a Dietary Approach Can Control Intestinal Fermentation and Inflammation

By Aglaée Jacob, MS, RD

Today’s Dietitian

December 2012, Vol. 14 No. 12 P. 16

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